Science & Technology
Melissa Ketcham completes research program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Laura Billingsley   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 14:04

PELLA, (11/03/2014)(readMedia)-- If you were to ask Melissa Ketcham '15 what she's thinking about during a lecture, she might respond, "Video games." While this may not be a relevant subject for most academic departments, Ketcham's computer science major has provided her with the tools to turn her childhood love of video games into a potential career.

Ketcham, a senior from Muscatine, Iowa, discovered her love for computer science during her freshman year. "I had never heard of the field until I came to Central," said Ketcham. "My advisor, Dr. Fyfe, a professor of computer science, had me take his introductory class because it was required for my math major. I absolutely loved it."

Ketcham's appreciation for computer science didn't stop there. She said all of Central's computer science professors challenged her and helped her develop a passion for the field.

As a female in a male-dominated field, Ketcham's story isn't typical. According to a National Science Foundation report published in 2012, only 18.2% of college students in the computer science field are female.

"Being a woman in a man's field is always mentioned," said Ketcham. "At Central, I haven't really faced any problems with it, but there are studies and articles all of the time about the need for women in computer science."

In her senior year, Ketcham said her computer science professors continue to challenge her. "You can tell they care about what they are teaching," said Ketcham, "and they also know what they're talking about. The professors have had a huge influence on me."

With her professors' encouragement, Ketcham decided to participate in a computer science Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) this past summer through the National Science Foundation. Similar to internships, REUs allow students from smaller colleges to go to bigger schools over the summer to get research experience in a field of their choice. "I knew that I wanted to see whether or not I wanted to go to grad school, and doing the research would be a great way to do that," said Ketcham.

Ketcham completed her REU at North Carolina State University. There, she created computer programs for the university, such as an online tool professors can use to grade assignments. Her biggest project involved working with one of her favorite things: video games. By using Minecraft, a popular video game, Ketcham and other researchers wanted to teach middle school students how to code.

After her summer research experience, Ketcham said she hopes to work in software design for a small company after graduating from Central. This involves creating the programs and tools designers use to create video games.

"Part of me has always wanted to work on video games," said Ketcham. "It was a childhood dream, and I'm finally in a field where it's applicable."

Central College is a residential liberal arts college dedicated to the education of 1,500 undergraduate students. Founded in 1853, the college is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America and NCAA Division III athletics. Central is a recognized leader in study abroad as a result of its international, residential programs. The college is located in Pella, Iowa, a thriving community of 10,000 two minutes from the state's largest lake and 40 minutes southeast of Des Moines. Learn more at

Volunteers needed for QC FIRST Events PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Quad City Engineering and Science Council   
Friday, 31 October 2014 12:52

Volunteers Needed  - Supporting Quad City Area Student Robotics Events


NOTE: You can get all of this information by going directly to our website at:

Are you looking for a way to share your skills, talents, passion having fun and positively impact the lives of students age 6-18 in our community?  200+ volunteers are currently being sought to support several upcoming FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) competitions and events in it's 6th year in the Quad City area  reaching 900+ students .
Background: FIRST was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway) with their mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

Links to further information on program and volunteer roles by FIRST program including:

  • Junior FIRST LEGO League (JrFLL) - Students Grades K-3 Reviewer Role
  • FIRST LEGO League (FLL) - Students Grades 4-8th Volunteer Roles
  • FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) - Students Grades 7-12th  Volunteer Roles
  • No previous experience or technical background is required for many of the volunteer positions with training available. Teachers, education administers, and people in human resources are encouraged to consider volunteering to be a judge for FIRST LEGO League for Core Values (teamwork) and for the Research Project which is based around Learning.

    Positions are available for adults and students in college & high school.  Applications for volunteering will continue to be accepted until we fill all of the posted positions. 

    Volunteers will be provided food, beverages, and a great experience supporting our local youth!



    Note: Most pressing volunteer need now is supporting the 8Nov & 21Nov FTC events with volunteers needed for:  1 FTA (Field Technical Advisor), 3 Referees  /Hardware Inspectors including 1 Head Ref., 3 for Software Inspectors/ Scorekeeper / Field Control System (FCS) Operator combined including 1 Lead Software Inspector. Further info on roles available when you register to volunteer or with Link to FTC Volunteer Roles.

    To volunteer for a position at one or more events, you need to visit the FIRST  VIMS (Volunteer Information & Management System)

    You will then need to:

    1. Create an account which includes providing contact information, info "About You" with all info except Military Service having "Prefer Not to Answer" as an option and your expertise.
    2. Find and apply to volunteer at one or more FIRST Events including the ones listed above (except Junior FLL which won't be setup for a few more days).  You can prioritize the positions you are interested in supporting. 
      Note:  In order be assigned to a volunteer position, you will need to pass the background check which occurs when you apply as part of FIRST's new Youth Protection Program. Note:  you are not required to provide your social security number and there is no cost for the background check to you.

      You will receive an e-mail when you have been assigned to a role.

      There is a very helpful guide to walk you through signing up to be a volunteer:  VIMS User Guide June 2014
      Conflict of Interest: You should not volunteer for a role involved with judging, inspecting, or refereeing at the event in which you have any relationship with any of the competing teams (coach, mentor, parent or relations to student or school/organization).  Link to FIRST Volunteer Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Statement for FLL, FTC & FRC.

    If you have any questions regarding volunteering at Quad City area FIRST events, send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text9771 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Heartland Institute Experts Comment on Wind Turbines Being a ‘Human Health Hazard PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Science & Technology
    Written by Jim Lakely   
    Friday, 31 October 2014 12:42

    Earlier this month, the Health Board of Brown County, Wisconsin was among the first government agencies in the U.S. to declare wind turbines a “human health hazard.” Local residents say the noise frequency from the Duke Energy turbines at the Shirley Wind Farm cause constant ear pain, nausea, headaches, sleep deprivation, and other unhealthy experiences. (Click here for more information on the county’s declaration.)

    The following statements from energy and environment experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text9705 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

    “More than three years ago, I worked as a staffer in the Wisconsin State Senate in the office representing the First Senate District. Before redistricting, the district was home to the Shirley Wind Project. Throughout my time working for the legislature, our office received countless letters from constituents living near the wind farm detailing what they called ‘wind turbine syndrome,’ which they believed to be caused by the creation of low frequency sound as the blades of the windmill pass by the base of the turbine.

    “These are good, honest people; I’ve met several of them. They are not ideologues, and they don’t wear tin foil hats. There were at least three instances of people vacating homes they still owned, and complaints involving more than 75 people in the project area have been filed with the Brown County Board of Health.

    “Brown County is the first county to declare wind turbines a human health hazard in the state of Wisconsin, and perhaps the country. While local residents feel very strongly that the industrial wind turbines are having adverse impacts on their health, it’s important to note that correlation is not causality, and more study must be done on the effects of low frequency noise in human populations.”

    Isaac Orr
    Research Fellow, Energy and Environment Policy
    The Heartland Institute
    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    “Governments should never require citizens to purchase anything, except for direct government services paid for by their taxes. And if the government is going to require such purchases, it has a duty to make certain that the services are necessary and will not harm anyone. In imposing its wind power mandates, Wisconsin has failed on all these counts. It is incumbent upon the state to rescind these mandates and ensure restitution for all parties who have been harmed.”

    S.T. Karnick
    Director of Research
    The Heartland Institute
    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    “Without taxpayer funded subsidies, large wind turbine projects are not economically viable. They are simply too expensive for the inconsistent power that they provide. However, the government funds them regardless because of the appearance that their use helps ‘fight climate change.’

    “This makes no sense. Even with wind power as part of the electricity grid, conventional generating stations that burn hydrocarbon fuels must be kept on standby, ready to take over from the wind turbines the instant the wind stops blowing. So the overall impact on carbon dioxide emission is often negligible.

    “More importantly, the hypothesis that carbon dioxide emissions from human activity is damaging the climate has been thoroughly debunked by reports such as those of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. So, the main reason the government funds wind power is no longer valid.”

    Tom Harris
    Executive Director
    International Climate Science Coalition
    Policy Advisor, Energy and Environment
    The Heartland Institute

    “Generating electricity from wind not only means using a form of technology that dates back several centuries, but includes the health hazards that are being confirmed by all those unfortunate enough to live or work near a wind farm.

    “If you combined all of the electricity produced by wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels, that total amounts to only a small percentage of all energy produced in the United States. By contrast, so-called fossil fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas – produce 86 percent of our energy. Not only are fossil fuels less costly and represent lower costs to consumers, they do not require a reliable backup, unlike wind power, which requires a constant stream of wind to operate properly.

    “Americans have been sold a bill of goods about such ‘renewable’ power that only exists because of subsidies, tax breaks, and mandates for its use. When you add in the health problems associated with it, there is no good reason to install a single new turbine anywhere in the U.S.”

    Alan Caruba
    Founder, The National Anxiety Center
    Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    The Heartland Institute is a 30-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.

    KONE JumpLift debuts in North America, speeding construction of high-rises PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Science & Technology
    Written by Meghan Reilly   
    Wednesday, 29 October 2014 12:40

    Lisle, Ill., Oct. 28, 2014 – KONE Inc, a global leader in the elevator and escalator industry, today announced the first North American installation of KONE JumpLift technology in One Bloor, Great Gulf’s flagship high-rise condominium under construction in Toronto.

    KONE JumpLift, which has already been installed in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, China and Australia, is an advanced, self-climbing elevator that operates during construction in a building’s permanent hoistway.  KONE JumpLift uses a mobile machine room that moves upward as the construction progresses.  The technology can improve safety and efficiency on job sites and can enable buildings to be completed months ahead of traditional construction timelines.

    Great Gulf and KONE are collaborating on the project, which will deliver high-end retail and residential units in Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville area, and is expected to be completed in 2016.

    “KONE technology and innovative design techniques are changing the way buildings are built across the globe,” said Larry Wash, CEO of KONE Americas. “This collaboration with Great Gulf is helping us meet demand in the resurgence of high-rise construction in Toronto.”

    The KONE JumpLift technology includes the following benefits:

    ·         Less Wait Time: Operating at speeds up to 800 fpm (4m/s), five times faster than a traditional external hoist used in construction, KONE JumpLift is able to move construction workers to their floors in a faster, safer way.

    ·         Safer Transportation: With all transportation activities taking place inside in a dry and windproof shaft, construction workers can safely move throughout the building regardless of weather conditions, allowing building construction to proceed unhindered.

    ·         Construction Efficiency: Using the building’s permanent elevator hoistway for construction use, completed floors can be put into action while allowing the installation to continue above.

    ·         Faster Delivery: When the building structure is completed, changing over to the permanent elevator is a straightforward matter of installing the final machinery and finishing the material surfaces of the elevator car, landing doors and signalization.

    “Great Gulf always looks for innovation in design and construction. One Bloor, recently recognized by the International Property Awards as the best hi-rise condominium in North America, is one of the most significant buildings being built in Toronto,” said Christopher Wein, President Great Gulf Residential. “The KONE JumpLift provides real value and this elevator technology will help the entire construction project to proceed more efficiently and safely for everyone working on site.”

    # # #

    Partial Eclipse Viewing Held at WIU-QC PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Science & Technology
    Written by Tami S. Seitz   
    Wednesday, 22 October 2014 10:26
    MOLINE, IL – A viewing event for an upcoming partial solar eclipse will be held from 4:30-6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23 on the northwest corner of the Western Illinois University-Quad Cities Library, 3300 River Drive, Moline, IL. 

    The event is open free to the public. An observation area, with a telescope and viewing glasses, will be set up on the patio outside the library weather permitting, or inside the library to accommodate cooler temperatures.
    "After last month's blood moon, when the earth blocked the sun's light, on Oct. 23 the moon is returning the favor and will partially block the sun's light from reaching earth. The solar telescope will also permit viewers to see sun spots and any coronal activity on the sun," according to WIU College of Arts and Sciences Assistant Dean James Rabchuk, who will be in attendance at the viewing to answer any questions.

    The event is sponsored by the WIU-QC the Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Organization (LASSO). 

    For more information, contact James Rabchuk at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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